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« NYFF: "Shame" | Main | NYFF: "Martha Marcy May Marlene" »

10 Word Reviews: The Ides of Miss Pina Bala's March of Shame

I think you'll agree that we've had our best festival coverage ever with our NYFF write-ups (thanks to Kurt & Michael for their continued input) but even with the speedy pace of full reviews that we've been hitting, it's all too easy to fall behind. So here are super short notes on films seen recently during the festival and outside of it since we can't get to full reviews yet (or ever probably in some cases). After the ten word reviews I'm adding Oscar Thoughts since all four of these films have golden dreams.

Shame (Steve McQueen)
Fucked up siblings Michael Fassbender & Carey Mulligan self-destruct in New York through sex & despair.
10 WR: Brilliant sense of ghostly city, personal demons. But too obvious. B+ (B?)
Oscar?: Frighteningly committed acting but will voters see it? It'll surely be NC-17

Miss Bala (Gerardo Naranjo)
A beauty pageant contestant falls prey to drug cartel in escalating war.
10 WR: Easy indulgent nihilism elevated by smart construction and thematic visualizations. B-
Oscar?: The things it does very well are easy to see/love (or overpraise depending on how you see it). Will almost certainly make the pre-nomination finals in Best Foreign Language Film.
P.S. Michael reviewed this one and liked it much more than I did it

Pina (Wim Wenders)
A performed documentary on Pina Bausch, the late legendary German choreographer.
10 WR: 3D amplifies choreography's spatial genius. Bit noncommittal: Performance? Doc? Decide! B
Oscar?: Unless you count Waltz With Bashir, Oscar's foreign committee has never nominated a documentary. But this one is very very easy to enjoy (the dancing is like heaven) and could be a novelty exception to "rule". 

Ides of March (George Clooney)
Clooney adapts the stage play about dirty politics and betrayals of spirit, body, and ideals
10 WR: Involving and handsome but few great scenes. Weird "scene-change" pacing. B
Oscar?: Seems very likely on several fronts but particularly Supporting Actor (Clooney, Giamatti or Hoffman, though?) and score (Desplat's work gets a lot of "air time" if you will.) Though Evan Rachel Wood (major role) and Marisa Tomei (minor role) are both marvelous, Supporting Actress seems less likely for a wide variety of reasons.

Quick takes. Finis! In short it's been a good run of super enjoyable or at least interesting movies lately. Other than that Abduction fluke. Your turn in the comments.



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Reader Comments (19)

"Fucked up siblings Michael Fassbender & Carey Mulligan self-destruct in New York through sex & despair"

That was silly of you putting it here. Now the marketing guys are gonna use it to sell the film and you won't get a penny! ;)
I mean, I would watch a movie with that description even if everyone hated it!

By the way, you seem to give an A- to almost every movie you see lately. Lucky you!

I'm still not sure I care to see Moneyball but I'm soo seeing Martha Marcy May Marlene Mamma Mia Mi Amor!

October 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

(y) - love this mini previews! I guess you are not seeing a nomination for Fassy or Gosling in a near near future.

October 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLuiserghio

A question about Desplat and Ides - While I get how more "air time" can help you get a nomination, is it ever that case that there's too much and it might hurt a potential nominee? Liked the movie, and the score is fine, but honestly I found its use rather intrusive a number of times in the film. I thought all the actors were superb (PSH would seem to have the most Oscar-y role to me).

October 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

ScottC -- i have never known it to be the case that intrusive scores hurt your chances for a nomination, no ;) in this as in many categories MOST can often equal BEST. for what it's worth i thought the score was fantastic but i agree that it was used strangely (and intrusively) or maybe it was just preferenced to much in the sound mix? not sure but i felt this way about Desplat's work on Cheri as well: Great score... but why play it like it's the lead character in the movie?

October 9, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I just got out of The Ides of March. It felt so much like a Sydney Pollack film. And I mean that in the most complimentary way. It was a good story well told, with great actors and some nice creative touches. I particularly did like the score by Desplat. It had this mix of romantic political bombast with the more traditional thrillery (Michael Clayton-esque) sound. I also though Papamichael had some great individual shots.

In terms of Oscar, it feels like one of those films that gets nominations but not wins. I liked Gosling in it quite a bit, but I still don't see a nomination happening. (He's better in Drive) And all of the supporting men feel like they've done this role before better in other films. Phil Hoffman certainly gets his big money scene in the center of the film, but is it special?

I thought Evan Rachel and Marisa were both great in different ways, but unlike Up in the Air, this film doesn't really care where these women are coming from.

I like your word, handsome.

October 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDrew C

I kind of agree with you on Shame. I like the filmmaker and actors, though Fassbender and Mulligan gave some good and brave performances. But I think overall the film was a bit manipulative.

WIth the rating and some of the more explicit scenes it is sad to say that the film is going nowhere near the oscars.

October 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternico

I share pretty much the same feelings about "Ides of March" and "Shame". My biggest problem with the latter is its melodramatic score, which constantly tries to upstage just about everything in the frame.

One thing that surprised me the most at my "Shame" screening was how charming Steve McQueen and Fassbender can be as a duo. McQueen really knows how to work a room and the Q&A he did with Fassbender turned out to be longer and more gleeful than any other screening I had so far this year (even beats Clooney's). If these two can keep doing what them did with that particular awards group, Fassbender may actually get in.

October 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjoy

Hmmm. I liked Miss Bala more than you, but less than Michael.

October 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew R.

Maybe I'm letting my feelings about the film cloud my judgement, but I really don't see Ides being the major Oscar player it was 'supposed to be' a few months ago. Clooney's good in his one big scene, and Evan Rachel Wood is a surprise MVP (along with Desplat's score), but nothing about the performances, or the film as a whole, stood out as Oscar-worthy. Then again, that's just me; the critics and/or AMPAS could feel quite the opposite.

October 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjbaker475

"easy indulgent nihilism"

I wonder if you could elaborate on this. I saw the film yesterday and thought the nihilism neither easy nor indulgent but purposeful and remonstrative. It pretty brilliantly captures Mexico's current nightmare: the corrosive fear that anything will/can happen and the confluence of criminal and police activity. And Laura can be a frustratingly passive character but she's a pretty apt metaphor for the feeling of incarceration common of people caught in the middle of the drug war.

October 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkeylime

Is Pina eligible for best documentary?

October 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Just got out of Shame. Beautifully shot (duh) and Fassbender was great but Mulligan was the real surprise-- it's nice to see her step out of the 'angelic girl' roles. I liked the soundtrack (or song) and its use, but was a little confused by all the across-time sound mixing.

My biggest complaint is that the ending was just so expected. It could have been infinitely more original.

P.S. Anybody want some cleats? ;)

October 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

You definitely liked "The Ides of March" more than I did. The movie seems incredibly dated, and several things that were supposed to be SHOCKING barely elicited a shrug from me. And I don't mean that I'm jaded. Really, two campaign staffers meeting is going to be major-media news? Come on. And Molly's whole storyline just had me asking myself, "Why is she doing this? When was this supposed to happen? Would a seemingly intelligent person respond to this situation this way?"

Well made, but thinks it's way smarter than it actually is.

October 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

Keylime: well said... Actually we (as mexicans) are surprise to see Miis
Bala as a contender, our government wants to keep calm and show a peace and friendly face of Mexico, and the movie didn't last a week in cinemas in here...

October 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArmando García

Found Shame quite superficial and cliche, despite fine performances and a couple well assembled sequences.

Didn't find anything in Miss Bala of value that I didn't already know from news reports. Laura not an effective embodiment of national suffering, nor defined enough to portray tragedy of a specific case. Lurching, inconsistent tone and indulgent, poorly executed long takes suggest a director eager to take on a subject without having a defined point of view on what he wants to say, trying to fudge with aesthetic bone throwing to critics. Like Shame, it ends up a superficial handling of a complex subject that deserved better.

October 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSmith

I thought "Ides of March" was great. It's too bad the reception isn't good on it. The cast was top-notch, and if you needed any proof that Ryan Gosling is the real deal (as if!), then here it is. Maybe people are jaded by political scandal stories or feel it's "been there, done that," but it's very much worth seeing. If it isn't quite BP worthy, it's far better than the majority of the mainstream films out right now. It's a needed Oscars prelude.

October 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBillBill

BILLBIL -- "needed Oscars prelude" ooh, nailed it there i think.

Smith -- i'm basically in agreement on Bala.

Evan -- sorry about the "cleats" my god. the spam lately. i try my hardest to get rid of it but why is this particular product targeting me? (sad face)

keylime -- i see what you're saying but i don't respond well to nihilism, even when it's purposeful because it seems like such a default mode (especially when it comes to rapturous critical reviews). I didn't need to SEE the killings and the draggings behind cars and whatnot. i understood the circles of hell for Miss Bala even without all of that. And the ending just didn't work for me AT ALL.

October 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Thanks for the review. Nate-- can you let us know just how full-frontal Fassy gets? is it just a quick running glimpse or a true view? semi or full? I have a hard time believing there will be any true nudity or a NC-17 (but can still dream)

October 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommentersethGassfan

Seth -- uh.... well, both Mulligan and Fassbender go full frontal and Fassbender is naked multiple times within the movie. I'm glad this had a director like Steve McQueen because a movie about sex addiction without actual nudity would have been very very strange. I am so confident that it will be NC-17 that I would like to employ one of those cliches... i'll eat my hat if it's rated R... but i don't wear hats.

October 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R
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